Tuesday, February 12, 2008


There are a number of matters I would like to blog about but by far the first in importance tonight is how proud I am of what is happening in Canberra today and tomorrow.
Today for the first time, Parliament opened with a 'Welcome to Country" ceremony from the local indigenous people. A recognition of our first people in such a way has been a long time coming. Many years ago I was struck by the greater recognition given to Maori people in New Zealand and this was also noticeable on my one visit to Canada and its First Peoples. In recent years there has been some growing recognition of indigenous peoples at meetings I have attended here in Australia but it is wonderful that it should finally have happened at the most important meeting in the country, the opening of Parliament. I observed last year that all worship services I attended in New Zealand began with a Maori greeting, but have not yet seen that here in Australia. I was pleased to work briefly in a High School last year where the original owners of the land were recognised at the commencement of each school assembly, I hope that practice is spreading.
Tomorrow, our parliament will finally say sorry, mainly to the stolen generations, but also for all "the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians. "
Like many Australians, I signed a sorry statement many years ago. However we have had to wait for the election of a far sighted, compassionate Prime Minister before we have been able to witness the word 'sorry' being said on behalf of our Parliament.
I know I will have many criticisms to make of Kevin Rudd over the coming years, especially in his tardiness over gay rights reform but I will forever be grateful to him for what he is doing tomorrow. The comparison with the mean-spirited little man he replaced is huge. As I said at the beginning, after many years I can finally again be proud to be Australian.
I was both moved and amused by the following.
The Prime Minister followed the apology with the story of one woman from among the thousands of the stolen generation and included that the government in the 1930's decided the children would be put into the care of Christian Missions, but which one? They were put into 3 lines, those on the left became Catholic, those in the centre became Methodist, those on the right became Church of England (often this split brothers and sisters). As the Prime Minister said "Thus were complex problems of post-reformation theology solved in Outback Australia."

1 comment:

Davis said...

I feel an intense pride at being a son of Australia on this day.